DON: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. This is Don Fernandez, your host for yet another edition of The Human Condition, bringing you the most striking interviews of common people you wouldn’t normally think about if you had something better to do. Tonight–Mr. Charlie Mendez–a man who is extremely content to be perpetually dissatisfied.
Mr. Charlie Mendez–can I call you Charlie?
CHARLIE: Well, I don’t know. I prefer “Charles,” really. Has a more respectable ring to it. But go ahead, call me “Charlie,” if–
DON: No, no! Absolutely not! If “Charles” is what you prefer, then “Charles” it is.
CHARLIE: Nah… Use “Charlie.” I hate that nickname but… fine! Just use it.
DON: But… I’m totally ok with calling you “Charles.”
CHARLIE: Please. Just call me “Charlie.”
DON: Ok, ok! “Charlie” then.
CHARLIE: Ugh. Ugly name.
DON: Good grief!
CHARLIE: I know right? There are thousands of better names out there and your mother somehow saw it fit to give you the most atrocious, banal, wimpy name possible!
DON: Ok. I may have jumped in this interview the wrong way. Clearly, this–what’s manifesting here–is a symptom of the problem you were going to discuss with our audience today. That is–you, Charles–or Charlie–are a man who’s extremely content to be perpetually dissatisfied.
CHARLIE: I… wouldn’t really frame the issue that way. Seems too simplistic. And reductionist. It’s definitely more than that.. but, uh, I guess if that’s convenient for you, then… fine!
DON: I see what’s happening here.
CHARLIE: Do you? I doubt it.
CHARLIE: But again–it’s ok!
DON: Ok! So. Let’s move on–
CHARLIE: God, I hate when people move on, but…
DON: –but let me guess–you’re fine with it?
CHARLIE: Sure! I mean, what can you do? Launch a revolution?
DON: Charlie, you don’t have to launch a revolution for anything. You know, you can say “No” if you really don’t like what’s happening.
CHARLIE: I do say “No.” I say “No” all the freakin’ time. But then people or circumstances push back, and when that happens, I say “Fine then, yes!”
DON: Don’t you think that’s a supremely defeatist attitude?
CHARLIE: Oh, I do. I do think it’s defeatist. And cowardly. And absolutely nothing will ever change in my life if I continue being this way!
DON: And? How do you feel about that? Sorry, let me rephrase–
CHARLIE: Oh, I HATE IT!
CHARLIE: GODDAMMIT I HATE THE FEELING! But at the end of the day, I just let it slide. It sucks but.. fine!
DON: See, Charlie, maybe you just need to try harder. If things don’t go your way, perhaps you should try just a little bit harder to, you know, get really, constantly angry at the state of things!
CHARLIE: Constantly? Like, uh, constantly-constantly?
CHARLIE: Like, uh, hate it forever?
CHARLIE: To do what?
DON: Well, so that you’re so angry and mad at the state of things that you finally push yourself to do something about it!
DON: Don’t you think that’s a better way to live than just being extremely content to be perpetually dissatisfied?
CHARLIE: To be honest–that sounds like a TERRIBLE idea.
DON: Terrible? How so?
CHARLIE: How? What do you mean, how? It’s freakin’ terrible. Constantly being angry in order to actually do things… are you insane? That’s the most terrible idea I’ve ever heard and it makes me sick!
DON: Oh no, just… just stop th–
CHARLIE: But if that’s your opinion, then, FINE!
DON: This… This isn’t going anywhere.
CHARLIE: Nothing’s going anywhere. You, me, this world. All of us ain’t going nowhere. I’ll keep working my soulless day job working with soulless people, enriching some soulless millionaires that keep this soulless society in check! You think just because people are getting more offended these days that this will actually result in a movement that will free us from the savage shackles that have held our humanity back from time immemorial? No! It’s a deception! A mirage! Fifty, five-hundred, five-thousand years from now, we’ll still be talking about the same issues stuck in the same rut!
DON: Charlie, Charlie… I hate to break it to you. But it’s precisely because of people like you that things aren’t going to change. Because you refuse to do anything about your situation! All you do is complain!
CHARLIE: Are you thick? You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t go to bed at night with those exact, same thoughts haunting me to sleep? Of course I’m aware of my shortcomings! Of course I’m aware I’m part of the problem–and the very CAUSE of it! And you know what? I HATE IT!
DON: Here it comes.
CHARLIE: BUT THEN I TAKE A DEEP BREATH, TURN ON THE TELEVISION, AND THEN… I’M OK!
DON: …What do you watch on TV? Maybe… maybe that has something to do with this attitude of yours.
CHARLIE: Nothing particular. Some sappy drama. Or childish sci-fi. Whatever’s on. They’re all garbage. But I watch them anyway. Because once you get used to the trash the soulless media industry is serving you, they numb your mind and your palate enough, and then… they’re ok!
DON: That’s sad.
CHARLIE: Miserable. Bleak. But I’m fine!
DON: What about a relationship? Maybe you just need to be loved and experience love to get out of this vicious cycle of being utterly content with misery?
CHARLIE: Oh, that has nothing to do with it. I’ve been married for over 10 years already.
DON: Wow! That’s quite an accomplishment. You must love your wife very much.
DON: Er, right?
CHARLIE: …Nah, I don’t like that woman.
CHARLIE: Yeah… I mean, I got her pregnant after the most horrible sexual intercourse I’ve ever had!
CHARLIE: Like, I’m not even kidding. It’s shockingly boring and disgusting at the same time! But we sort of… you know, got off, so the thing did its job, so I guess it’s all right. Then her belly started growing bigger after a few months and both our parents pushed us to get together. Oh, I freakin’ raised hell about that for weeks! I screamed at all of them, told them hell no I’m not marrying that woman whom I barely remembered from one drunken night at the pub! But my parents are devout Christians and they believe that a child has to have a father and mother living together yadda yadda yadda. So, you know, after a week, even though I didn’t like her not one bit, I said, “What the hell, FINE, I’ll marry the wench!” And we got married, and the baby was born, and oh God Almighty, what a bloody ugly baby that was who grew up to be one of the ugliest children I’ve ever had the misfortune to lay my eyes on. And my own flesh and blood, you know? But I accepted the kid, anyway.
DON: Because deep inside you loved your kid, right??
CHARLIE: Nah. Because I couldn’t do shit about it anyway. So… FINE!
DON: OK THAT’S IT! FINE! Let’s end the interview right here. I’ve had enough!
CHARLIE: You angry at me, Don?
DON: YES! WHAT KIND OF A FATHER HATES HIS OWN KID? YOU’RE… YOU’RE MAD! YOU’RE PSYCHO!
CHARLIE: So what? What are you gonna do about it?
DON: I–I… WELL, NOTHING FOR NOW!
CHARLIE: So you’re fine for now?
DON: GODDAMMIT. I’M AFRAID WE’LL HAVE TO CUT THIS STINKIN’ PROGRAM SHORT AGAIN! ‘TIL NEXT TIME IN THIS GOD-FORSAKEN MADHOUSE OF A SHOW! THIS IS DON FERNANDEZ, HOST OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, SAYING GOODNIGHT AND GOOD LUCK! I HATE ALL OF YOU!
CHARLIE: Come on, Don! Chill! It’ll pass!